Made New

You have heard me teach many times that Sundays are to be our pray and play days. How we are to spend time in the worship and learning of our God, as we share a day set aside for our health, a special time to spend with our family and friends, as God intended. When we arrive at Matthew 12, we find Jesus leading His disciples on the mission of God, not even breaking for lunch. This means the disciples are hungry and looking for something to eat. Jesus leads them right through a cornfield where they began a little dutiful snacking on nature’s God-given bounty. Well, as always seems to be the case, people are watching and then they start yammering about how these hungry disciples are violating the Sabbath. That’s when our Lord stops to address this moment.

Matthew 12:3~He (Jesus) said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: (ESV) The Word is sharing the Word, as Jesus teaches the legalistic what God intended for His people. Young David, heir to the throne (1 Kings 16:13) and his mighty men were hungry in (1 Samuel 21:1-6). Matthew 12:4~how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? (ESV) After being offered in the tabernacle, showbread was to be eaten only by priests. However, God did not punish David, because human need is always more important than symbolic regulations. That is the point of the Good Samaritan. The Sabbath was never intended to make people suffer or go hungry; it was intended to better our lives because we get so busy we just won’t rest. 

Mark 2:27~Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (NIV) The Pharisees had perverted the Sabbath to the point it was no longer a day of rest but had become a day of frustrating regulation. Exodus 20:8~Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (ESV) The Lord then shares you don’t work, kids don’t do chores, servants don’t serve, not even your livestock. However, over time the rules were piled on. For example, Jews could only walk three thousand steps on the Sabbath and they didn’t have a pedometer. Also, picking up anything weighing more than a dried fig was considered work and not allowed on the Sabbath. I know that your weight of figs maybe a little rough these days so, let me help. It only takes 44 dried figs to make a pound. That seems pretty insignificant, and one of the reasons the Law of Ole Mo was so heavy and hard to live by.

Why not take a break from the burdens others place on you, and give those burdens to Jesus who said in Matthew 11:30~For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (NKJ) Why not make time today to do as we are commanded in 1 Peter 5:7~Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (NIV) Just let go. Yeah, you will still have to cook dinner and do dishes, but you won’t have to live with worry or anxiety. Isn’t Jesus just the best.

All the Change we need

Did you know that Jesus didn’t come to earth just to save us; He came also to change the way we behave. Jesus is all the change we need. Not only does He change us through His teaching, but the life of Christ offers us a wonderful example of how to live fully engaged in a deep, meaningful relationship with the Heavenly Father. Living a Christlike life requires that we follow His Biblical example in at least three areas.

The first area we find Jesus bringing about change in our lives is by telling us to Keep-Away From Legalism. (Matthew 12:1-8) Ever played a really good game of Keep-Away? As a child, my dad wasn’t much for games. Still, on some rare occasions after fending off our best efforts he would with great and blustery turbulence, meet us, or should I say beat us at our own game. When our exuberance wained and we proceeded to descend upon other prey, he would set his glass carefully on the table and fix us with a glance that would have skewered a pig. His grand stature of 6’5” of twisted steel and sex appeal, towering shoulders and head above all engaged in serious play. 

With recoiling long rifle like arms and the strength of ten, boys who were simply unmatched and outgunned. Like Goliath, he towered high above, dominating us into submission. The game of keep-away felt more like tackle, shove, and poomp (the sound a rubber ball makes as it flattens against one’s body) then touch. This was the unbridled passion of a father, his son, and a murder of neighborhood friends. Inevitably, someone would cry foul, attempting to assuage the loss by yammering on about rules. Nothing like good old-fashion legalism to ruin a good game of keep-away. 

Jesus and His disciples are still in Galilee, probably near Capernaum. It is Sunday afternoon, and though it seems they are out for a stroll there is purpose afoot. As they proceed through a grain field, the disciples of Jesus are hungry. Like most itching for a snack, they pluck from what is near. Matthew 12:1~At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. (KJV) 

Like the audible escaping of air as a tire quickly flattens, the Pharisees were rubbernecking this very moment. It was an iPhone at the ready, expeditiously posted to the book of faces, as new memes popped up on Instagram, and the Twitterverse exploded like the death star. Many would’ve pondered the wise words of ~Slim Pickens~ What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports is a-goin’ on here. Matthew 12:2~When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” (ESV) For the Law said that there was to be no reaping of grain on the Sabbath (Exodus 34:21). 

However, what we are witnessing is not technically reaping. There was to be no canning, storing, or housing of this corn. Jesus’ disciples are plucking and eating. That my friends is not harvesting, nor is there a plow present so it is not earing time. Though they were going through a whole mess of ears. I know it can seem confusing, but the disciples are being caught by the legalist police. I am quite sure that we have all played good cop, bad cop. Sometimes when it suits us, we slip into our role as we attempt to play the Fairness Police. This is our humanity, we want rules that others have to live by, and at times of necessity or just our own whimsical occasion, that we can side-step. Jesus says to us, just quit it. Stop being legalistic and let grace win.

I bet there is someone you probably need to share the two hardest words in the English language with. I’m sorry, I know it’s a contraction, but these are the hardest words for us to say to people. So, who has the Lord laid on your heart today that could use an I’m sorry? Why not pray and ask God for the courage, for the words, even for the timing to let them know. I bet it makes their day, and builds your faith.

Positively Accepting

We have been considering the three types of responses that people have towards Jesus. We have discussed the Critically Castigate, the Persistently Indifferent, and now we look at the Positively Accepting. (11:25-30) While the first two groups have not been very edifying, Jesus turns to praise. Saying in Matthew 11:25~At that time Jesus declared, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; (ESV) Now the wise and understanding refers to the proud and arrogant Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. The phrase little children again indicate those who respond positively to God’s truth, found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. A great description of these two kinds of responses is found in James 4:6~But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. (NIV)

On Wednesday night during our study on the Prologue the opening of our world by God, I shared one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It’s found in Genesis 4:7~If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (ESV) Only those who are willing to humbly receive God’s truth and do right, will understand and be accepted. Matthew 11:26~yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (ESV) Pride keeps more people out of heaven than anything else. 

Jesus says in Matthew 11:27~All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows (ἐπιγινώσκει ἐπιγινώσκω) the Son except the Father, and no one knows (ἐπιγινώσκω epiginōskō) the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (ESV) (ἐπιγινώσκω epiginōskō) means thoroughly aquatinted and accurately known. God knows His Son and the Son knows His Father intimately or completely. So, to whom does Jesus choose to reveal the Father too? Matthew 11:28~Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (ESV) Jesus says to us if you are tired of carrying the weight of your salvation, the burden of your sin and guilt if your works are weighing you down. Just Come! Just be My disciple.

The truth is that salvation is acceptance by Jesus Christ because we have come and humbly said we are a sinner. We asking Jesus to come and live in our hearts and tell Him that He is the Lord overall and that we are going to do our best to do what is right. If you have ever wanted to be accepted, all you have to do is turn to Jesus. Perhaps right now you want to do just that. I bet you can even think of someone in your life that craves acceptance. What they truly desire is Jesus. Romans 8:22~We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (NIV) 

Why not take this devotion as an encouragement to talk with the Lord and when you see the one he has laid on your heart, do what is right. Christ continues to encourage our positive response as Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30~Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me…For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (ESV) God is not looking to blister or irritate you. No, the Lord wants you to know that He is here to be fully, intimately known by you. All you have to do is respond.